The meeting involves representatives of the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) which includes the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the Evangelical Fellowship.
ZHOCD’s executive secretary Kenneth Mtata said: ‘The challenges facing the country can only be resolved through a broad-based national dialogue.’ He added that the possibility of engaging SADC would be high on the agenda.
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure said: ‘We only hope that Zanu PF and the two MDCs are not speaking in forked tongues and have a genuine appetite for the talks.’
Professor Stephen Chan of London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies said it would be a good thing if formal talks were preceded by an informal meeting between Mnangagwa, Chamisa and Mwonzora.
‘The very early talks to end apartheid in South Africa were exactly of this sort of informal, ice-breaking and confidential nature’, he said.’ No one says anything in public afterwards, except to announce that a formal process of dialogue will begin. And, yes, there is no reason why the Church should not act as hosts.’ (See: https://www.zimbabwesituation.com/news/clerics-move-to-kick-start-talksas-national-dialogue-momentum-gathers-steam/.)
The Vigil welcomes these efforts to get a dialogue underway but doubt that Mnangagwa and the Zanu PF elite will easily agree to relinquish any power. We believe that Mnangagwa is basically Mugabe the Second and his own interests will come first and last.
But there appears to be increasing unease about the situation in Zimbabwe among South African leaders and the UK is applying new pressure for change, imposing sanctions on four more Zimbabwean officials for human rights abuses (see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-announces-sanctions-against-zimbabwe-security-chiefs).
The UK insists that these targeted sanctions will not affect investment in Zimbabwe and that its aid programme will continue. But Minister for Africa James Duddridge said many investors were shunning Zimbabwe because of concerns over property rights and a compromised judiciary.
‘The UK is committed to supporting Zimbabwe’s long term success. But the onus is on the Zimbabwean government to show it is willing to take steps to make the critical political and economic reforms the country needs. Until then we will not shy away from defending human rights,’ he said (see: https://www.zimlive.com/2021/02/04/uk-investors-shunning-zimbabwe-over-property-rights-says-minister/).
- A reggae song ‘Dem Loot’ by the journalist Hopewell Chin’ono denouncing looting has gone viral on social media, with other people releasing their own versions. Chin’ono has been jailed three times in the past six months for challenging corruption in Zimbabwe. He said the song was aimed at getting young people to engage in political discourse (see: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/feb/03/demlootchallenge-zimbabwean-activists-sing-to-protest-corruption).
- A documentary film about Zimbabwe’s controversial election in 2018 has been given a Special Jury Award at the famous Sundance Film Festival in the United States. The film, ‘President’, directed by Camilla Nielsson, is a sequel to her 2014 documentary ‘Democracy’ about the 2013 constitution. For reviews see: https://www.indiewire.com/2021/02/president-review-documentary-zimbabwe-election-1234614636/ and https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2021/02/03/55101228/sundance-review-zimbabwes-election-of-2018-now-speaks-directly-to-the-uss-election-of-2020.
- Because of the coronavirus we can no longer physically meet outside the Zimbabwe Embassy in London, so we have a virtual Vigil while the restrictions continue. We ask our activists to put on Vigil / ROHR / Zimbabwe regalia and take a photo of themselves holding an appropriate poster reflecting our protest against human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The photos are uploaded on our Flickr site.
- For Vigil pictures check: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimbabwevigil/. Please note: Vigil photos can only be downloaded from our Flickr website.
- The Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe (ROHR) is the Vigil’s partner organization based in Zimbabwe. ROHR grew out of the need for the Vigil to have an organization on the ground in Zimbabwe which reflected the Vigil’s mission statement in a practical way. ROHR in the UK actively fundraises through membership subscriptions, events, sales etc to support the activities of ROHR in Zimbabwe. Please note that the official website of ROHR Zimbabwe is http://www.rohrzimbabwe.org/. Any other website claiming to be the official website of ROHR in no way represents us.
- The Vigil’s book ‘Zimbabwe Emergency’ is based on our weekly diaries. It records how events in Zimbabwe have unfolded as seen by the diaspora in the UK. It chronicles the economic disintegration, violence, growing oppression and political manoeuvring – and the tragic human cost involved. It is available at the Vigil. All proceeds go to the Vigil and our sister organisation the Restoration of Human Rights in Zimbabwe’s work in Zimbabwe. The book is also available from Amazon.
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